North Carolina Report ‘Error’ Causes 200,000 COVID Test Overcount

Samples are tested for respiratory viruses, which procedure will be used to test the novel coronavirus COVID-19, during a visit by Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to the pathology labs at Leeds General Infirmary to highlight the record infrastructure spend after yesterday's budget, in Leeds, Yorkshire on March …

A “reporting error” in North Carolina caused the state to overcount its coronavirus tests by 200,000 since the start of the pandemic, according to an announcement from state officials on Wednesday.

The error, which state officials largely blamed the lab for, did not have an effect on certain measures, including the total number of positive cases from the state.

Mandy Cohen, who serves as secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, pointed a finger at LabCorp Diagnostics for giving the state two different daily test count numbers when data was submitted.

“The positive cases are reported electronically,” Cohen said. “Those continue to be accurate. The number that we are correcting today is just the total cumulative lab tests.”

According to a news release from state health officials, the tally for completed tests is calculated in a different way than that of positive test counts, which are handled using data from an individual, patient level.

Cohen said the error was discovered as new methods were explored for data collection in the state because officials pushed for a more reliable, automated counting system. Cohen stated:

Our team found this as we were doing process improvement. I certainly wish we would’ve done that process improvement earlier, right? And then we would’ve caught this earlier. I think we own that in not catching this as soon as we could. Certainly LabCorp owns some of this for sending us the wrong data, but we own some of it for not catching it on our end.

Chief Medical Officer and President of LabCorp Diagnostics Brian Caveney acknowledged the error and the company’s responsibility in the process, saying some of the numbers included in North Carolina’s count included tests from other states.

Caveney said in a statement:

We quickly corrected the issue and provided the updated manual reports to NCDHHS. LabCorp’s daily electronically reported data was accurate and unaffected by the error, and this issue does not affect other states or any results reported to patients or their providers.

In America, roughly 700,000 tests are processed each day. Over the last few weeks, LabCorp has been responsible for processing more than 180,000 tests per day.

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